Δευτέρα, 30 Μαΐου 2011

900 Species Invade the Mediterranean, Alter Entire Food Chain.


puffer fish photo
The puffer fish is just one invasive species that now dominates in the Mediterranean. Photo credit: notsogoodphotography/Creative Commons
Over the last several decades, more than 900 invasive species have moved into the Mediterranean Sea, many of which have become established—and even dominant—in the region. As a result, coastal communities of plants and animals are experiencing major shifts and, in some cases, entire food chains have been altered.

"The Mediterranean is the world's most invaded sea," said Stefan Kalogirou, a researcher at the Department of Marine Ecology at the University of Gothenburg, adding that "once species have become established in the Mediterranean it is almost impossible to eradicate them."
The problem, he believes, stems from the 1869 construction of the Suez Canal, which created a corridor linking the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and, eventually, the Indian Ocean. Ship traffic through the region continues to be a major vector for the introduction of alien species.
Though the conduit has been open for more than 150 years, surprisingly little is known about how many species are introduced to the Mediterranean or what happens once they are there. Kalogiru's research, part of a four-year study of Mediterranean coastal ecology, found a clear impact on native species.
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